A lightweight heavyweight

If I had to name the open source projects with the largest development teams, Gnome and KDE would probably come to mind. After that though, I would struggle to name something with a particularly large following.

So I was amazed, and at the same time pleased, to read on the LXDE devlopment blog that they rank quite high in the list of active projects on Ohloh. You can double-check the figures and the rankings with the links on that entry; I had to look for myself too, but apparently it’s true.

Of course mentioning LXDE in the same breath as KDE and Gnome will make some people bristle. Obviously a project with more than 430 contributors and one with 26 are in different leagues, even if the statistics show them in close succession.

Personally though, I think it’s fantastic. If you take a look at the code analysis for LXDE you can see how the project has grown since 2006. And while code size doesn’t always correspond to useful software, it does suggest that a lot of people are interested, and actively contributing — with updates appearing as recently as last week, even.

You can interpret that any way you like, but for me it reinforces my own hopes that people are more interested in light and efficient software, and maybe even shifting away from heavyweight desktop environments in favor of faster alternatives. I know the full Gnome suite is ideal for some, but I know of very, very few people who take the time to learn a lightweight alternative, and then go back to a resource hog. The difference is just too impressive.

Regardless of how I understand the numbers, the LXDE team deserves a smilie for putting together effective and efficient software, and at the same time becoming such a “heavyweight” in the development world … pun intended. πŸ˜€

18 thoughts on “A lightweight heavyweight

  1. stlouisubntu

    Great post! This is indeed quite encouraging. My main desktop PC runs the LXDE based ubuntu derivative dubbed u-lite formerly ubuntulite. http://www.u-lite.org
    PCManFM is a great lightweight file manager as well (and is included with the modular LXDE packages.)

    LXDE is a great choice for anyone desiring or needing a truly lightweight gui. (People who want to run a lightweight desktop and use Xfce puzzle me as Xfce really does not seem to me to be lightweight at all.

  2. truzicic

    Heh, yes, LXDE is a bright star on a horizon… But, what puzzles me is next… WHY almost all lightweight applications use GTK+ (as mentioned PCManFM)? Imo, it is just too ugly, even with themes and stuff… QT4 is as lightweight as GTK, but provides more plesant look out of a box… But, almost all of QT software comes with KDE deps… Too bad… I hope this will change soon… Sry for bad english (or lack of it) πŸ™‚

  3. zen

    I saw it too and I’m a LXDE happy user.
    Pretty minimalistic, light and beauty.
    Also, biggest open source project is … Debian :D.

  4. woodsmoke

    An example of the power of LXDE is that I was introduced to LXDE by a fellow who goes by the handle of Fragadelic and he has developed, for himself, anyone else who chooses to use it can but there are no guarantees… his own… LXDE lite.

    So…..with it I cut my teeth on LXDE…

    But…. as to the power of LXDE in general… for other totally unrelated reasons I was trying out all of the latest distros to use a particular program and in one and all cases….the Plasma desktop, which worked in the live cd mode, borked on the install. The desktop literally disappered. The mouse was there and moved but no interaction with the desktop. I could use the menus however, but even they were strange because there was not desktop for them to be grounded in.

    This happended with a LOT of plasma window manager distros…again, this is a pretty middle of the road Nvidia card, that ALL DISTROS…prior to these latest releases saw…I think it is the updated driver….

    The last install was a Kubuntu variant and the desktop borked but the OS was useable …I remembered that there is a LXDE install using Aptitude….

    In about ten minutes, I had installed LXDE window manager ON TOP OF Kubuntu! Ran like a top!

    That has lead me to a new hobby! I’m installing distros and installing LXDE on top of them just to see what happens…

    Now….I gotta admit….. I haven’t been able to get Compiz Fusion to work on one yet…but…other than that… πŸ™‚

    Ya know what happens?

    They are………FASTER!!! lol


    1. robert gainey

      Maybe its something else and not KDE.
      Im writing from KubuntuKDE4.22, I have Mandriva2009 on the netbook and have run KDE with Linux Mint and OpenSuse and Arch and Fedora before that and cant say ive run across a big problem like that. Some distros like Kubuntu are flakier than others but yours seem more than a simple bug.
      Ive installed Mandriva09/KDE4.2 on a dozen computers these past 3 months since its the first KDE that I thought was ready for my folks. Ive installled on AMD, Intel and 64bits, using quite a few videos cards.
      Of course, for some reason Kubuntu just freezes non stop on my dad’s computer so he had to have the same Mandriva as mom has on her laptop (dad wanted kubuntu because he read about flyboybuntu and saw him on tv talk about that Lienux thing I work on!). I still have it there as a dual boot so I can give it another go when I have time there. That;s the bad thing about having your folks run Linux: you dont see them as often doing service calls on their Windows machines.
      Microsoft: helping to bring families together (often!)

      Ive got Gentoo and Kubuntu on a test machine, I think Ill install LXDE on top to try how that works. I will curse your name if it fails woodsmoke !!!

  5. johnraff

    Re XFCE – it’s not as fast as an openbox-based desktop like LXDE, but I think it’s lighter than Gnome and, for some people, makes a nice compromise between speed and features/usability. Likewise, Thunar, XFCE’s file manager, is slightly slower than LXDE’s PCManFM, but has some handy features like customizable context menu items. On the other hand, PCManFM has tabs, so it comes down to personal choice as usual… πŸ™‚

  6. Sertse

    Also, many people’s perception of XFCE comes from Xubuntu, which is about as unlight as it can be. Plain XFCE is quite manageable. Help us when the official Lubuntu ever comes about, and you’ll see haha πŸ˜›

    For me, LXDE feels a bit disjointed in some ways; Grouping otherwise unrelated tools into a metapackge and calling it a DE.

    Disclaimer: I use LXDE (sessions/lxappareance)/XFCE (desktop)/Fluxbox(wm) setup,

  7. johnraff

    LXDE’s “disjointedness” is intended as a feature. You can pick and choose the parts you want to use, at the cost of some of the integration you’d get with more sophisticated desktops.

  8. qmic

    What are you talking about??? LXDE ?? Many developers? I wrote a patch which solved problem with unproperly batteries detection, a had NO ONE to send it to. I posted it on forum and i was waiting one month with no response and then I changed desktop environment.

    1. K.Mandla Post author

      That’s one of the most unusual reasons for switching desktops I’ve ever encountered. I won’t apologize for your experience though; if you had difficulty contacting the LXDE crew I can only suggest trying again.

      1. qmic

        I often change distributions for similiar reasons :). Very much I am frustrated when something won`t work. I was thinking that project is abandoned :).(low developers and community activity

    2. guest

      Did you try their bug trackers?
      It’s the right way to send your patches.
      Posting something in a forum is not a very good idea.
      Did you see any gnome developer posting on a gnome forum?
      They use mailing list and bug trackers, not forums.
      Forum is for discussions and Q & A supported by user community, not for bug reports or patches.

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  11. guest

    Did you try their bug trackers?
    It’s the right way to send your patches.
    Posting something in a forum is not a very good idea.
    Did you see that any gnome developers posting on a gnome forum?
    They use mailing list and bug trackers, not forums.
    Forum is for discussions and Q & A supported by user community, not for bug report or patches.


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